Diagnosis of Asthma
Asthma can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are sometimes similar to other lung conditions. Initially, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
In addition, the following tests may be performed:
Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs)
People with asthma will experience a mild constriction of the airways when the drug methacholine is inhaled. If asthma is suspected, but there are no obvious symptoms of airflow obstruction on PFTs, methacholine is administered and the tests are run again. Alternative provocation tests include administration of histamine or inhalation of cold air. The diagnosis of asthma is usually made if the PFTs indicate lung airway obstruction during a provocation tests.
You may have
Peak Flow Meter
American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.acaai.org/ . Accessed July, 2008.
American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=22542 . Accessed July, 2008.
Asthma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 2009. Accessed July 21, 2009.
Braunwald E. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2001.
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: Expert panel report III: Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2007. (NIH publication no. 08-4051). Full text available online:
Last reviewed December 2009 by
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